Beads found by archaeologists in an ancient burial in the state of Illinois, were made from a meteorite. And the analysis showed that this meteorite fell to the territory of the current US more than 700 kilometers from the place where the beads were found.
One of the authors of the work of Timothy McCoy from the National Museum of Natural History in Washington says that the find proved the existence of active trade links in the eastern part of North America almost two millennia ago
The burial, where the beads were found, belongs to the so-called Hopewell tradition – the totality of archaeological culture prevalent in the Midwest of the USA from 100 to 400 AD. The find was made near the city of Havana in Illinois in 1945.
In addition to the beads in the burial were numerous ornaments of shells and about a thousand pearls. The abundance of ornaments allowed archaeologists to conclude that they found the grave of a man of high rank.
Scientists have long known that 22 beads of nickel-iron alloy have a meteorite origin. But now they were able to determine with which meteorite they are connected. In 1961, Anok meteorite was discovered in Minnesota, but the analysis that was carried out soon showed no connection between the beads and this meteorite. Then, in 1983, they found another fragment of the meteorite Anoka.
When he got to the museum of natural history, researchers using mass spectroscopy and other methods found a correspondence between his composition and the beads from the burial in Illinois. The composition of the Anok meteorite includes layers of a more fragile schreiberess mineral. Ancient masters, according to researchers, could use these layers to break a solid stone.
McCoy conducted an experiment, making a similar bead from a fragment of the meteorite Anoka. He heated it on a wood fire to 600 ºC, flattened with a stone hammer, and then gave it an elongated bead shape. According to him, it took quite a long time and it was not an easy task.
An expert on ancient Egyptian products from meteoritic material Diane Johnson from the Open University in Milton Keynes (Great Britain), who did not take part in the study, notes that the beads of the Hopewell culture are very similar to elongated beads, which about 3000 years ago made from meteorites The people of Egypt.